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my cat has cancer in the mouth, when to pts?

(23 Posts)
Birdsighland Mon 24-Feb-14 13:07:06

My cat has not been eating properly for ages. We went to the vet last October/November when one side of his jaw looked more swollen than the other. We got antibiotics and they seemed to clear him up.

He was in a cattery over Christmas and was never fully his old self again. He was a bit out of sorts, but chugging along. Then he started to hardly eat. Back to vet and steroid with antibiotics. He perked up a lot and we did some blood tests for thyroid. This was fine.

Then he absolutely hit the floor, really refusing practically all food. He just took a couple of mouthfuls a day. Back to the vet and under sedation. He had a cancerous lesion at the back of his mouth eating into his flesh. He can perk up again for a while with more steroids and antibiotics - until these don't perk him up any longer. This may only be one or two months at the most.

There is nothing to be done for him.

I want him to have a chance to have a little more time, pain free. I don't want to wait to pts until he is in actual pain, so don't want to let it go on too long.

Has anybody else been in this situation and how did you resolve the fine timing between the drugs working and relapsing into pain?

hanette Mon 24-Feb-14 14:04:24

Hi - I am so sorry to hear it. My 17 year old cat was diagnosed with tongue cancer last week and she is failing fast. A teaspoon of food a day at the moment. I have an appointment scheduled for this Friday that was supposed to be a check up but I decided to have her put to sleep then instead. Heartbreaking and I can think of little else.

Sorry, not much help but I wanted to let you know I am in the same boat. Are you ok?

Birdsighland Mon 24-Feb-14 14:51:06

Hello Hanette, sorry about your cat. It must be very hard getting through this week.

My boy was a stray who came and wouldn't leave. We don't know how old he is. He was only diagnosed today, so I'm in shock really. Thought I'd be collecting him from having dental work. He is the most demanding b*gger in the world, but does things that make us laugh every single day.

I know I'll have to make the decision to pts, but want to get the timing right for him.

cozietoesie Mon 24-Feb-14 15:02:50

I've been there (although with a different illness) and it's a very difficult decision. I left it too late looking back on it. Every 'up' day was a balm to my heart and the 'down' days we struggled through together. These days, if I had a desperately bad prognosis, I would want one of my boys to go when they were still fairly happy.

Someone on here has said - 'when there are more bad days than good days' and I think that that's good advice. But I would add - take a long view and leave your own feelings at the door if you can. It's all about the cat now and I would let them go when they're still pleased to wake up in the morning. (Given the situations that people find themselves and their animals in and how very quickly they can change for the worse, that would probably work out about right in any case.)

All the best to you.

hanette Mon 24-Feb-14 16:34:06

So sorry Birds - it takes a few days yo sink in I think.

Unfortunately I did a lot of googling over the last few days and the success rates for treatment of mouth cancer are not very high. He sounds a lovely boy. I hope if you have DCs they are coping.

Cozie thank you, your experience makes me realise it needs to be this Friday rather than later.

Birdsighland Thu 27-Feb-14 06:55:51

How are you getting on Hanette? I was wondering if your vet gave you special food for your cat. I was given tins of Hills prescription diet 'critical care' catfood at the vet surgery. It is a tin of a soft paste like pate (very dense energy though) and my guy is at least eating again, for the moment. They don't have to chew it really. Maybe there's no getting around soreness with the tongue though.

My 11yo son burst out crying last night. The finality of it, I think. He was saying that the cat was going to be dead and it wasn't a natural death. The cat should lived another 10yrs. Also, he was unique. I tried to explain how we were lucky he had swanned into our lives and we had the privilege and responsibility of helping him pass away as easily as possible.

If I had another cat who was exhibiting any eating problems, I'd insist from the outset on a mouth examination under sedation rather than a physical while the cat is fully awake. It was right at the back of his mouth and he was resisting in all the physicals while awake so couldn't be easily seen. They thought it might be dental in some way. It doesn't seem to make much difference with this type of cancer though. I'd never heard of the blasted thing before and it's presence in cats.

Best wishes for these few days. I know it's harrowing.

superbaghag Thu 27-Feb-14 07:05:34

My beautiful boy had throat cancer last year. We decided to try monthly steroid injections and made a decision to keep going while he was actively enjoying life and maintaining his weight. We got 6 months and then his weight dropped off really dramatically and we had him pts.

15 years of faithful companionship, I hope I served him well.

hanette Thu 27-Feb-14 13:25:53

Hi Birdsighland

Thank you for checking in, harrowing is the right word. I am afraid she hasn't had solid food for a few days now, just water, but earlier in the week she would take a lick or two of pate funnily enough so it sounds like the Hills prescription stuff would be ideal.

I am so sorry to hear that your son is so distressed. Poor lad. My DC have been horribly upset this week too. Both in tears and shock reactions really. I am very glad though that we have had these last few days together - they have taken loads of photos and have accepted it is the best thing for her. They are a bit older (DD12 and DS14).

I am dreading tomorrow, the appointment is at 8am, but for her it will be a relief. Also we are moving house in 3 months' time - at her age it would have been a huge upheaval and I am glad the timing has spared her that

I agree about full mouth inspections - mine had an examination just before Christmas and nothing was spotted. Although it could just have developed very quickly.

I hope you have a longer time left with your cat than I do and best of luck with everything x

Superbaghag - I am so sorry to hear about your cat. 6 months from diagnosis is good I think. But you must miss him terribly.

HarpyFishwifeTwat Fri 28-Feb-14 14:56:53

Hanette hope you are all doing as well as possible today. flowers

hanette Fri 28-Feb-14 16:13:45

Thank you Harpy - it was very peaceful in the end, and definitely the right time. Heartbreaking though.

Birds how is your cat today?

Birdsighland Fri 28-Feb-14 21:52:13

I'm so glad it was peaceful, Hanette. The solace is you've spared her anymore suffering. She must have been very weak at the end. I'm aghast the vet saw her at Christmas. Did they look in her mouth? Trouble is they don't make it easy for someone to examine them.

My boy is now eating two tins of that critical care food per day now (they're not huge, but very nutritious). Along with two little bowls of milk. The steroid tablets have made eating much less uncomfortable. He had stopped eating before and the weight was plummeting off him. I even brought him out into the garden for around 15 minutes to have a sniff around. He is sticking to me like glue. I think he is scared to be feeling so unwell. He is hugely improved, but not better. The steroids will slow down the tumour but not stop it. It is a matter of time until he will be too sore to eat again. But I will be happier he has had a last hurrah and we get time to get used to his death sentence. Of course, I don't know if the will happen next week or next month.

Cozietoes, I'm keeping in mind that I don't want to leave it too late so he suffers again.

Superbaghag. It's amazing the monthly steroid injections gave your cat an extra six months. I wonder if the type of cancer progressed more slowly.

hanette Fri 28-Feb-14 23:40:00

Birds thank you for kind words and also thank goodness he is still eating. Althoug mouth cancer is so aggressive at least you have a decent amount of time with him left. In many ways him sticking to you like glue is lovely - you'll remember that in the future

I hope you get to have some lovely months together with your family. I found it helpful to take lots of photos with the kids and cat and will have it made into a little mini album on photo box next week. I also booked for us to see Charlie and the choc factory musical tonight once I knew it was The Day - it lifted our spirits and took our minds off it and am v glad I did, good luck and I'll check back to see how you are doing x

Birdsighland Tue 04-Mar-14 23:16:42

Ok. My boy is declining. The steroid tablets did not keep him as perked up as the injections. He stopped eating again and I went back to get more steroid injections. I'm going to double the dose of steroid tablets but I reckon I'll have to put him out of his misery this week. He has stopped eating the soft critical care food. I have cooked white fish and salmon in tin foil and this is the only thing that he'll eat. He will take some milk after. I found out about the fish by accident. We had fish for dinner yesterday and he was frenzied at the smell so I gave him some which he devoured, despite being obviously sore.

As the last injection is going to wear off tomorrow and the tablets don't work as good, he'll be miserable again. I'll have to be his friend and end his misery. I had hope he would get more time, but it is not to be.

He had some time out in the sun today. I don't how he'll be tomorrow. The vet said he could have a sedative before the anaesthetic.

cozietoesie Tue 04-Mar-14 23:20:28

So sorry birds. I think you have to go with your instinct. I know that when my Darling Oneago started going, the effect of the steroid injections - almost miraculous at first - became less and less anyway.

Take care of yourself.

BrianTheMole Tue 04-Mar-14 23:21:42

I'm sorry mate. The time is when he is uncomfortable / in pain and that can't be treated. If he's not eating or drinking then that will be part of it. You will know yourself really when that is. I'm sorry flowers

fortyplus Tue 04-Mar-14 23:29:14

This might not be helpful but... I had an old cat who had a tumour growing across the back of her mouth - increasing in size so rapidly that the vet said it might only be weeks before it started to interfere with her breathing. Like yours - no chance of recovery, only a matter of keeping an eye on her and letting her carry on while she was comfortable. She had to have daily antibiotics and steroids. Then after a few months the tumour started to shrink - then it disappeared completely. She went on another couple of years after that.

MysticMugBug Tue 04-Mar-14 23:38:57

I've lost at least 2 cats in my life due to the descision to adopt old ones. I've had my current all black cat from a kitten.
It's so bloody hard to make the right choice when getting them pts because we love them so much.
Hugs for you and puss x thanks

Birdsighland Wed 05-Mar-14 09:37:43

He's had a saucer of cooked salmon and a bowl of milk for breakfast. Groomed himself after. He is now out in the garden, sitting in the morning sunshine. He jumped up on the gate pillar earlier. I'm going to give a steroid tablet in a couple of minutes.

I have to be flexible about bringing him to the vet, but he's enjoying this morning.

timtam23 Wed 05-Mar-14 11:48:44

Really sorry to read about your old boy Birds, it is a hard time

I had to do similar "watch & wait" with my old cat last year when she was in a terminal decline (not mouth cancer though). In the end it was really obvious when she was needing to be put to sleep and the vet was very good.
she had had a good final summer last year though - lying outside in the sunshine, and I'd tried to give her little titbits of delicious expensive food. For a while she had a reasonable quality of life but when she stopped grooming, eating & drinking, and was withdrawing from us, it was time to let her go. The weeks of waiting & worrying about her weighed quite heavily upon me though.

Take care and thanks for you

hanette Wed 05-Mar-14 15:14:24

Oh dear I am so sorry to hear it. I had hoped you would have longer. I am glad he is enjoying this morning and I hope your DS is ok. Having a bit of time helped me to adjust and I hope it helps you and your family too. You will know when the right time is. Thinking of you and your boycat thanks

Birdsighland Fri 07-Mar-14 18:38:01

It is all over for him. Despite eating, his mouth was obviously very sore afterwards. He was a hostage to the pain. I brought him this morning and it was calm. I had no choice.

I am wracked with guilt about how I didn't know how bad he was prior to diagnosis. He was a very placid cat.

Thank you all for your thoughts. I know he may be regarded as 'just' a cat, but he was part of our family and added so much joy to our lives.

cozietoesie Fri 07-Mar-14 18:45:26

No such thing as 'just a cat', Birds. They're all personalities who fill our hearts with joy.

Cats are the finest coverers-up of discomfort or pain around. You didn't know - but as soon as you did you had him in to the vet.

And now you've done the final loving thing.

I'm so sorry. Take care of yourself.

hanette Fri 07-Mar-14 23:01:58

I am so sorry for your loss. Agree, Cozie, no such thing as 'just a cat', they are part of your family.

You did the right thing by him for sure. I hope you can dwell on the good times and that you had these last few days together. I feel like there is a huge hole left behind and sure you do too. I keep telling the kids we will feel happy again at some point soon, but it's hard isn't it. Mouth cancer seems to be so aggressive it's a shock.

I am thinking of you and your family. I hope you get through these awful days. Good luck and I hope you feel the cloud lift soon x

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